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Amsterdam Architects to Create 3D Printed Bridge

Architects and designers have been using 3D printers in surprising and groundbreaking ways over the last several years, with many of them proposing ambitious projects and uses for the technology that show just how much it has grown in the last half decade, and how much it could still change the way buildings are constructed. The combination of 3D printing and CAD 3D drafting tools is a powerful one, which enterprising architects and planners all over the world are gladly taking advantage of.

Amsterdam is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, largely thanks to the many expertly constructed pedestrian bridges that cross its historic canals, the oldest of which is nearly four hundred years old, having been constructed in 1648. The city is very protective of its image as the “Venice of the North,” and has long taken steps to protect its bridges and canals as part of its cultural heritage. In addition to its reputation as home to famous bridges and waterways, Amsterdam is also known as a center of 3D printing activity, becoming a global hotspot for 3D technology development in recent years. In a recently announced project, those two parts of the city’s reputation – bridges and 3D printing – are set to come together, with the creation of the world’s first bridge printed in midair.

Beginning in 2017, engineering and architecture firms Heijmans, MX3D, and Joris Laarman Lab will begin construction on a one-of-a-kind project: the printing of a steel bridge spanning one of Amsterdam’s canals. No humans will be involved in the construction. Instead, two of MX3D’s six-axis robots, capable of crafting with molten metal on horizontal, vertical, and diagonal planes, will construct the bridge, on site, over the course of two months. The robots will begin on either bank of the canal and slowly begin to move up and over the water, leaving the bridge and railing behind them as they move. When they meet in the middle, they will assemble the bridge’s crest and connect their two halves, leaving behind a fully functional bridge capable of carrying foot traffic over the canal.

The city has not yet announced where the bridge will be constructed, but has said that it will make extensive information available through a visitor center starting in September 2015.

Assembling Steel in Midair

The bridge building project relies on tech startup MX3D’s proprietary robots, which have been designed to construct steel structures in midair. Unlike traditional 3D printers, which are limited to constructing within a square space, MX3D’s six-axis 3D printing industrial robots have the potential to usher in an era of new 3D printed architecture. If the bridge building project is successful, other construction projects are sure to notice the robots’ ability to shape molten steel with accuracy and flexibility. Combined with advanced computer aided design software, these robots could be used to construct even more complex structures, reducing building and labor costs dramatically.

Want to learn more about how computer aided design helps streamline the design process and lower costs? Contact the CAD experts at Q-CAD today by calling 800-700-3305.




Canal in Midair, Amsterdam

HP’s New Computer Offers Affordable Home 3D Scanning

3D printing and scanning have been making big impacts on the consumer market in the last few years, opening up new possibilities for consumers armed with 3D drafting tools that were only available to professional services just a few decades ago. With the introduction of The Sprout, HP’s new 3D scanning-enabled computer, home 3D replication capabilities have taken another dramatic leap forward.

HP is billing The Sprout as “the world’s first immersive computer,” and, in at least one sense, it delivers on that promise – The Sprout allows users to capture and manipulate 3D content on a consumer-grade machine. Combining Intel’s Real Sense 3D cameras and HP’s 3D Capture Stage and other proprietary 3D design software, The Sprout enables users to not only scan in 3D images, but to also manipulate, share, and print them. In other words, The Sprout is the world’s first consumer computer that gives regular users the ability to easily and affordably create their own 3D content, from design, all the way through manufacturing.

The Sprout, which launched in 2014, is part of what HP is referring to as its “blended reality” strategy, of which The Sprout is the “onramp.” According to Eric Monsef, vice president of HP’s Highly Immersive Systems division, The Sprout is to be the building block for the company’s future line of immersive technologies and 3D application tools.

How Does It Work?

The Sprout’s 3D capture technology works by utilizing the 3D Capture Stage accessory, which acts as a platform for the objects to be scanned. When the user turns on the 3D Capture app, the 3D Capture Stage turntable begins to rotate and tilt, making sure that every detail of the object is captured by the scanners. Once the image has been taken, the user can manipulate the digital model that has been created on their computer, creating their own modified 3D images.

Once the images have been uploaded to a user’s computer, they can be shared via e-mail, social media, and other information sharing channels, or printed with a 3D printer. While The Sprout does not come with its own companion 3D printer, HP is working on that as well; the company has partnered with Dremel, creator of the Dremel 3D Idea Builder printer, to create a scan-to-print solution that it can eventually market to its customers.

HP has announced that it will be offering 3D Capture as a free upgrade to its current 3D Snapshot software; the old program was only able to capture one side of an object for 3D modeling.

The Growing World of 3D Scanning

The Sprout comes at a fortuitous time in the 3D scanning industry. According to a report by research firm MarketsandMarkets, the 3D scanning market will reach $4.08 million in 2018, driven by increased adoption of computer aided design and 3D printing on the professional and consumer levels.

As CAD programs and 3D replication software become more affordable and easier to use, they are likely to become even more popular with the general market. While The Sprout is the first computer of its kind available to average consumers, it certainly won’t be the last. HP is already planning to create more machines of this kind, and its competitors are sure to follow suit. In other words, The Sprout represents yet another step forward in the increasing acceptance and ubiquity of CAD tools as not just a specialist’s tool, but an item for everyday users.





HP's New Computer

Canadian Architect Designs World’s Tallest Wooden Skyscraper

Here at Q-CAD, we love keeping up with recent innovations in architecture. We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of CAD architectural drafting, and are always looking for developments and ideas that could find a place in the world of building planning and construction.

At the recent Reinventer Paris design competition, in which architects were tasked with presenting ideas for revitalizing Paris’ architecture, Canadian Michael Green and French firm DVVD presented a novel plan: the designs for the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper. The proposed wooden apartment complex sits at the center of Green’s design for what he calls the Baobab complex, which also includes a student hotel, bus station, and e-car hub, and is designed to be an environmentally friendly and sustainable way to help tackle Paris’ growing housing problem.

Members of the project are comparing the wooden Baobab tower to the Eiffel Tower, in terms of being an iconic new structure that challenges future designers to change the way they build, and Green is not shying away from the comparison. He notes that when the Eiffel Tower debuted in 1889 as the world’s tallest structure, it inspired a generation of architects to use steel in their buildings and set off a competition across the world to build the world’s new tallest structure, one that lasted decades. If his project gets off the ground, Green hopes that his work will have a similar effect, inspiring a new generation of architects to build ecofriendly urban complexes out of wood instead of metal.

Green notes that wood absorbs and stores carbon dioxide, something that steel, concrete, and other widely used construction material cannot do. That means that if wooden structures become more widely used, they could have a positive impact on the air quality and environmental health of their neighborhoods, absorbing and storing excess carbon that would otherwise stay in the atmosphere.

At the moment, there are no plans to bring Green’s wooden skyscraper into the world. But that does not mean that the idea of wooden skyscrapers is the pipe dream of just one eccentric architect.

Are Wooden Skyscrapers the Future?

The sound of wooden skyscrapers may sound strange, but it is an idea that has been gaining increasing traction in the architecture world. So-called “plyscrapers” are something that architects across the globe have begun taking more seriously, and plans for several wooden buildings similar to Green’s Paris apartment building have already been built, such as the 97-foot tall Wood Innovation and Design Center in British Columbia. Wooden skyscrapers have also been constructed in Australia and the United Kingdom, and two more are scheduled to be built in Vienna (the 275-foot HoHo building, to begin construction in 2016) and Stockholm (a 34-story apartment complex that may be completed by 2023).

Proponents of wood structures point to the positive environmental impact, as well as wood’s dexterity as a building material. Green’s plan, in particular, also calls for his building to be constructed in a factory, and then assembled on site from the prefabricated materials, which he says will also reduce costs and build time. While some serious issues would have to be addressed (the first being the obvious fire safety problems involved with all wooden structures), Green and other architects are confident that wood can become a transformative factor in architecture and environmental policy.

Have questions about Q-CAD’s architectural services? Contact us today at 800-700-3305.

Canadian Architect Designs



CAD in the Museum and at the Dentists

Over the last few decades, multiple industries have found groundbreaking applications for CAD drafting and other computer-aided design tools. Recently, CAD and 3D printing have been making an impact on both the world of museums and on what happens when we visit the dentist.

Australian Institute Seeks to Preserve Museum Specimens

Australian man Bill Holden has founded an organization called Thylascan, which has given itself the task of preserving the structures of endangered and extinct animals through the use of 3D printing. The institute takes scans of the fossils and other remains of threatened or extinct animals, and then creates replicas of them. According to Holden, his mission is to give modern people a chance to come in contact with and appreciate animals that they otherwise would not be able to experience.

Thylascan is currently working with Museum Victoria, the UK software company Simpleware, and the 3D printing firm 3D Systems Asia Pacific. Together, they are creating a collection of 3D printed animal and insect replicas, using a combination of computed tomography scans, MRI, CT, and micro-CT scans to capture images that can then be converted into CAD models. Simpleware then uses those CAD models to produce anatomically correct models of the animal’s bone and body structures.

In addition to the 3D models, Thylascan’s replicas also include holograms, two-dimensional prints, and t-shirts. Holden also makes sure that his replicas can be customized and scaled according to the environments that they will be displayed in.

Dentists Use 3D Scanners to Improve Tooth Restorations

Anyone who has ever been fitted for a dental crown knows what a miserable experience it can be. Not only is the process uncomfortable, it can also take weeks for the permanent crown to be produced, and it requires multiple visits to the dentist to finally be fitted. Thanks to innovations in video scanning and 3D printing, however, dentists are currently making the experience of being fitted with a crown less of a hassle.

The traditional method of creating a crown involved taking a mold of the patient’s teeth with gooey paste, and then forming a cap from materials like gold, porcelain, or ceramic based on that mold. But some dentists are now using a new process that significantly speeds up the process of creating and installing a crown, reducing wait time from weeks to hours. This new method involves taking scans of a patient’s teeth with a scanning wand, which converts the image into a computer model. Using an on-site milling machine, the dentist then creates a lithium disilicate crown based on the computer model of a patient’s teeth, making a crown perfectly fitted to the patient’s mouth in a fraction of the time.

The use of this process not only makes the experience of visiting the dentist less uncomfortable, it also makes it more convenient and affordable. For many people, having to take off multiple days for a single dental procedure can be difficult, or even unaffordable. By shortening the time that it takes for dental procedures to be completed, CAD-driven dentistry has the potential of making dental care more accessible for low-income people.

Want to get in touch? Contact Q-CAD today at 800-700-3305.

Dental Professional




Dutch Architects Creating First 3D Printed House

Here at Q-CAD, we try to stay up to date on interesting developments in 3D printing and CAD architectural drafting. This week, we’ll take a look at a Dutch architecture firm’s groundbreaking experiment in using 3D printing to construct a livable dwelling.

The First 3D Printed House?

Dutch architecture firm DUS Architects is currently in the midst of producing what it claims will be the world’s first 3D printed house. When completed, the house will be a 13-room canal house in Northern Amsterdam, assembled from large, black plastic blocks. The blocks are being fabricated on a machine that DUS has dubbed the “KamerMaker,” a custom-made 3D printer that can produce material with ten times the thickness of a standard desktop 3D printer.

According to DUS’ director and co-founder, Martine de Wit, the structure’s individual rooms will be independent standing structures, which will then be placed on top of each other and secured by the blocks’ interlocking capabilities. The house’s interior and exterior walls are printed concurrently, with space built in between them for electrical and plumbing systems to be added later. After the internal components have been added, and the house is fully assembled, concrete and insulation will be placed within the walls to complete the structure.

Printing of the house’s blocks began in January, and DUS currently estimates that it will take three years for the components to be manufactured. In addition to being an experiment in 3D printed housing, the project is also considering trying different components to create its plastic blocks. The current formula for the 3D printed building blocks uses bio-plastic made from 80% plant oil.

Greater Aspirations

DUS has grander aspirations for its 3D printed house project than just seeing if the task can be done. According to de Wit, the project is meant to test the feasibility of creating houses out of recyclable material, as well as laying the groundwork for reducing construction costs by allowing firms to create building designs in one location, and then transmit their CAD layouts to the construction location for the building materials to be fabricated. The houses designed via this process can also theoretically be disassembled and moved to a new location with ease, and the designs altered to meet the specifications of individual home and building owners.

In addition to creating houses, de Wit also predicts that the process DUS is currently using can also be used to create furniture, art, and other craft material. Despite the company’s grand ambitions, though, de Wit also cautions that the project is still an experiment, and that there are still many challenges that need to be overcome before the process becomes a viable option for regular construction, and that the process probably won’t replace current building methods entirely.

Others are even more skeptical than de Wit. According to Dr. Phil Reeves of the UK 3D printing research firm Econolyst, DUS’s methods have several disadvantages that make it unlikely to find widespread adoption. The first is time: At the current rate of three years to completion, DUS’s 3D printed house will take much longer to construct than it would with current construction methods. Using current modular construction methods, it is much faster to fabricate a building’s parts in an offsite factory, and then transport them to the building site for quick assembly. Reeves also notes that the DUS house’s form makes replacing or altering internal wiring, or even correcting faults in the building’s construction, rather difficult to perform once the house has been assembled and the concrete in the walls has been poured.

Whether or not DUS’s project develops into more than an interesting experiment still remains to be seen. Regardless, the company’s plans for a 3D printed house represents a milestone in the use of CAD architectural design.

For more about CAD and its use in architectural design, contact us today at 800-700-3305.

Canal in Midair, Amsterdam



Innovations in Computer-Aided Architecture

The use of CAD architectural drafting has not only made architecture more efficient, it has helped innovate new ways of constructing buildings. In China and the U.S., architectural firms are using computer-aided design to test new methods for designing and constructing both high-end and low-income dwellings.

Chinese Company 3D Prints a Mansion and an Apartment Block

Earlier this year, Chinese construction company Winsun unveiled two impressive new structures that it had created via 3D printers: a mansion and a five-story apartment block. Both structures were created entirely with 3D printers, which were used to manufacture layers of material to form the buildings’ walls and ceilings. While Winsun had previously created one-story homes with 3D printers, both these new structures represent a remarkable step up in what can be accomplished through the combination of CAD and 3D printing.

Both buildings are currently on display side by side at an exposition site for visitors to inspect. The mansion is 11,840 square feet (1,100 square meters), stands two stories tall, and features balconies, stairways with ornate railing, and multiple windows that open outward. The apartment block is much more standard: four stories high, it has a red brick-colored surface for the top three stories, and a white marble color for the bottom, with six large windows per story (three on one side, and the other three on the opposite).

As for the building’s construction, the walls of both structures were created from layers of concrete that were laid on top of each other. The thin concrete slabs were created with giant 3D printers, which fabricated the materials based on computer models of the planned designs.

New York Architect Announces Plans for 3D Printed Estate

While Winsun’s accomplishments are surely noteworthy, New York architect Adam Kushner’s recently announced plans are far more impressive. Kushner, along with 3D printing expert Enrico Dini and his firm, D-Shape, is planning on creating an estate in upstate New York made from 3D printed materials. The estate will include not only a 2,400 square foot house house, but also a car port, a Jacuzzi, and a swimming pool.

Kushner has completed his computer designed plans for the estate, and hopes to have finished construction by 2017 (the pool and Jacuzzi are scheduled to be finished by the end of this year). The current plan is to construct the material for the estate on-site, using a giant 3D printer that is currently located in Italy, and which was partially funded by the Italian military for use in the creation of defense structures.

Not only will the materials for the building be created at the building site, but Kushner also plans on creating the building material from sand, gravel, and dust already at the location. By mixing those components with a magnesium-based binding agent, the 3D printer can create a substance that is described as being similar to marble, which can be formed into shapes unachievable even by other 3D printers.

Kushner isn’t just content to produce New York estates, either. If his planned methods prove viable and affordable enough, Kushner says that he hopes the building tactics he is pioneering could be used to create many structures that are not only built faster and cheaper, but are also of a higher quality. The system could then be used to create humanitarian structures, such as housing for refugees, and to repair infrastructure like bridges and piers.

Want to learn more about CAD? Contact us today at 800-700-3305.

Empty Grey Room


CAD Industry in 2015 Showing Positive Trends

Two recent news items about the computer aided design software industry have shown positive trends for CAD companies and their affiliates. In this post, we’ll discuss these trends, and what they mean for the industry.

Report Shows Growth in the CAD Industry

In a report that shows good news overall for the computer aided design software industry, research group JPR showed that the CAD industry posted overall growth in the year 2014, and was worth $8 billion dollars with over 5 million regular customers. This trend is expected to continue. The JPD report also shows that the industry is expected to grow by another $700 million by 2017.1

In addition to positive financial growth, JPR also made note of several positive changes that were shaping the industry. In addition to industry newcomers specializing in 3D printing, virtualization, and other complementary areas of design and production, finding a foothold alongside industry regulars, use of new technologies like the cloud and mobile apps were also on the rise. While tablets and the cloud did not make a big enough impact by themselves to have a noteworthy impact on the industry, interest was on the rise. According to JPR’s Kathleen Maher:

“[CAD vendors’] attitude [toward the cloud] has completely turned around, so while individuals and companies may not be rushing to use cloud-based workflows or virtualize their systems, there is a high degree of interest as evidenced by the shift in product offerings among CAD vendors.”1

JPR’s report examined CAD use across the fields of architecture, construction, and mechanical production. As would be expected, it noted that the level of use of CAD products varied across geographical regions. In areas where the economy was growing or relatively healthy, CAD use was heavily prevalent. In economically depressed areas, the technology was used less.1

Professional CAD Workstations Now More Affordable

In another piece of CAD news, industry watchers have noted a surprising trend in pricing for the professional-grade workstations needed to operate professional CAD software. These high-powered computers, which require significantly more processing power than the average consumer-grade desktop, have traditionally been significantly more expensive than traditional home computers. But over the last few years, companies have begun introducing workstation desktops priced at less than $1,000, lowering the bar of access to professional grade CAD tools to the average consumer.2

As recently as even five years ago, consumers who wanted access to professional CAD programs would most often buy consumer tech products, and then spend additional money upgrading their desktop’s CPU, GPU, and RAM so that it could run the professional-grade programs they wanted to use. While this was a less expensive option than purchasing a professional workstation computer, the cost and technical knowhow needed to perform these upgrades could still keep CAD tools out of the reach of consumers, and was a practice that was generally discouraged by both computer manufacturers and software companies. And, even when upgraded, consumer devices do not provide the flexibility and adaptability that the workstation PCs designed specifically to run CAD and other professional design software provide.

The advent of workstation desktops that are more affordable to the average consumer will likely open many doors for startups, home businesses, and amateur designers who were economically barred from having access to professional-grade CAD programs in the past.

You can learn more about CAD and how it is used by contacting Q-CAD today at 800-700-3305.

CAD Software




3D Printing Helping Healthcare Providers Change Lives

While the innovations and changes that CAD software and 3D printing have allowed many industries to make certainly aren’t trivial, none of them may be more important than the ways that computer aided design technology is impacting the healthcare industry. Thanks to the use of CAD, and the ability to realize innovative designs through 3D printing, doctors and healthcare providers have been empowered to save lives and improve the way they care for their patients, as we discuss below.

Blind Mother “Sees” Unborn Child through 3D Ultrasound

Brazilian woman Tatiana Guerra has been blind since the age of 17. Because of her disability, she had been unable to see the ultrasounds of her unborn child, a boy she named Murilo. But thanks to the intervention of Huggies Brazil, Guerra was able to achieve the next best thing when she was given a 3D printed replica of her fetus, based on data collected from her ultrasounds. While she is still unable to see her son, she can now do the next best thing and use her sense of touch to feel how her new child is growing, where before she had to rely on other people’s descriptions of ultrasound data.

The model was made by 3D printing company The Goodfellas, and has the words “I am your son” inscribed in braille near the accurate mold of Murilo’s head, face, and upper body.

For Guerra, this printout is a chance to bond with her unborn son in a way that was not possible for her or other blind women before. For the healthcare industry in general, the replica of Murilo’s face represents a trend of 3D printing making physical models for medical purposes easier and more affordable to create.

Custom Airway Tube Saves the Lives of 3 Children

While Guerra’s story might be heartwarming and represent a future of improved patient care for the disabled and impaired, it hardly represents a medical breakthrough. The story of pediatrician Dr. Glenn Green and his team’s use of 3D printing in medical care, on the other hand, is a powerful example of how the technology can be used by doctors and care providers to save lives.

In 2013, Green’s team stunned the world by announcing that it had saved the life of an infant, Kaiba Gionfriddo, by treating the child’s compromised airway with an airway splint made via 3D printer. When treating children, doctors have long struggled with the fact that young children’s rapid growth can compromise the integrity and usefulness of medically necessary implants.

When children’s bodies grow and change over time, traditional implants need to be replaced, removed, and closely monitored, in case they end up presenting a threat to the child’s health. Dr. Green’s implant changed all this, by being designed to both change its shape over time as Kaiba’s body developed, and to dissolve harmlessly inside the body after a period of three years.

In April of this year, Dr. Green’s team released a new report, which not only detailed Kaiba’s successful recovery, but discussed the cases of two other young boys with the same condition whom were successfully treated with the same splint. Green has also announced that he and his team are working with the Food & Drug Administration to begin clinical trials, hoping to use the 3D printed airway splint on 30 more children.

For more information on CAD and 3D printing and how they are used, contact us today at 800-700-3305.

3D Printing in Medical Care

Computer Aided Design Helps Aerospace Companies Improve Production

Airplane manufacturer Airbus found itself with a problem in recent years. It had to cut costs and find a way to meet its order schedule, which it had fallen behind on. The company found an innovative solution when it adopted new CAD conversion practices for its manufacturing process, a move that enabled it to meet its goals for order deadlines and operational cost reduction.

Simplified Production

The aircraft manufacturer Airbus recently announced that they had ordered and successfully received over 1,000 flight parts for their vehicles that were produced via additive manufacturing/3D printing, produced by the company Stratasys. Because aeronautical engineering involves the design and creation of incredibly complex and detailed parts, production of new parts is often a long and expensive process, and left little room for flexibility in the supply chain and manufacturing schedules. This left Airbus struggling to meet its delivery commitments, and looking for new solutions that would enable it to produce parts for its vehicles more quickly and reliably which still maintained the quality control standards the company required.

Partnering with Stratasys turned out to be the perfect solution. Instead of using a traditional manufacturing process, in which complex and fragile parts had to be assembled manually, Airbus ordered parts for their A350 XWB planes that would instead be created through the use of computer aided design, and then assembled via 3D printing. This resulted in digitally created airplane parts that, according to the company, met smoke, fire, and toxicity compliance standards, and which were produced for a fraction of the cost of traditional production.

The partnership between the two companies began in 2013. By December 2014, they had delivered their first new CAD-manufactured airplane to Qatar airways.

Improved Manufacturing

Through the company’s new CAD-enabled manufacturing process, which it has dubbed “PolyJet,” Airbus solved a pressing supply problem and was able to meet commitments that its traditional manufacturing methods would not have allowed it to meet. But, more than that, it also improved the quality of parts the company was producing. As is often the case with CAD-designed, 3D printed parts, Airbus’ newly produced parts were more lightweight than the ones it had previously made, while still having the same level of structural integrity.

The result: better parts that are less expensive and faster to produce, and an improved “buy-to-fly” ratio.

Airbus isn’t the only company that is taking notice of the cost cutting, quality boosting potential of adopting CAD-driven manufacturing. Stratasys is already partnering with companies from multiple industries, ranging from other aerospace companies, to the auto industry, to medical supply companies and consumer goods manufacturers. By moving from traditional manufacturing and production methods to new, digitally designed and produced additive manufacturing, these companies are hoping to be able to not only speed up their production schedules, but to design and create new products, decentralize operations, and be able to produce new and replacement parts more easily than they have ever been able to before.

The benefits of using CAD are clear, and will only become clearer over time. Using computer-aided modeling and design programs, companies can reduce errors, speed up production time, and create more accurate, detailed plans and models. Q-CAD has been offering CAD conversion services since 1992, and has continued to expand its use of computer aided design to find new ways to better serve our clients and improve our business practices. Learn more about how we use CAD today by calling 800-700-3305.

Airplane in Flight

Oil and Gas Industry Using CAD to Create New Innovations

3D printing may be a new technology, but its effects are already being felt across multiple industries. In particular, the oil and gas sector has announced its plans to implement a combination of CAD drafting and 3D printers that will eventually overhaul its manufacturing process completely.

Improved Manufacturing through CAD

While the oil and gas industry is still a long way away from deploying 3D printing as the main manufacturing method for the massive equipment that makes up oil rigs, processing plants, and other important installations for the collection and processing of oil and gas, it is already in the process of integrating CAD and 3D printing into its product creation cycle. Companies are already using 3D printers to create nozzles and other small parts, with the intention of eventually using so-called “additive technology” to mass-produce oil and gas processing equipment on a large scale. If things proceed as planned, oil and gas companies will soon be able to produce equipment on a scale that was impossible before.

Piggybacking off of the 3D printing innovations it has used for its aerospace division, GE Oil & Gas is currently implementing plans to begin widespread distribution of 3D printed nozzles, to be used in the company’s new NovaLT16 natural gas turbines. According to a representative of the company, manufacturing these nozzles has traditionally been a laborious, time-consuming process, involving the required building of 20 individual pieces, and then tediously combining them together one by one. But with the company’s new computer-modeled 3D printable version, the nozzles can be manufactured as one whole piece. Not only is this manufacturing method faster and more productive, but it creates a sturdier nozzle. Where the old nozzles were made of individual pieces welded and sealed together, the 3D printed versions are entirely internally contiguous, making them more sturdy and precise.

A New Industrial Revolution?

In engineering-intensive industries like oil and gas, the old model for how quickly and affordably products could be created was measured by the work intensity, and by the complexity of the design for each tool and piece of machinery. Once additive manufacturing processes, like the one GE Oil & Gas is using to create the NovaLT16 nozzles, become the norm, the old model will go out the window. Instead of cost being measured in the complexity of manually completing a project, the only barrier to a product’s construction will be the amount of material required for the company’s 3D printers to replicate it.

This CAD-fueled innovation would affect more than just the manufacturing of products that have already been created. In the past, innovation ended at the point where a piece became too complex for engineers to design and assemble by hand or by using current manufacturing technology. Additive manufacturing, on the other hand, requires only that a digital blueprint be created and then sent to a 3D printer for replication. According to GE, this could lead to the creation of a host of new technologies, as well as shorten the prototyping period from weeks to mere days.

Like the oil and gas industry, many manufacturing and production industries are discovering new ways to use CAD technology to innovate, cut costs, and improve the quality of their products. For more information on how we use CAD to improve our work and better serve our customers, contact us today at 800-700-3305.

Oil and Gas Worker